The Definition of a Leader

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”— John Q. Adams

A few weeks back, I came across the quote above. Written so long ago, it was a reminder that the role of leadership, at its core, does not change. At all times it is about connectivity, knowing ourselves well enough to understand the impact, positive and negative, that we have on others. And it is about having the intention to make the spaciousness in the day to better understand and to connect more deeply with ourselves and with those around us.

This connectivity often is an act of compassion—compassion defined as understanding, not sympathy or empathy, but open, accepting understanding. And in the swirl of complexity and pressure and ambiguity that is so often commonplace in our lives, making this spaciousness, I have found, requires deliberate intention and a commitment to prioritize its importance.

But, if we take a few moments, perhaps right now, to consider those times when we felt understood, it might bring to our mind, body and heart a kind of warmth and ease, whether or not our view ultimately prevailed. And we might also recall that those moments seem to be increasingly rare in our culture. Are there challenges, meetings, projects right now that might benefit from the spaciousness of allowing everyone to be heard, and perhaps to be understood?

I know from my own experience that time pressures can often make this seem like an impossible choice. But, I also know that something is often lost, perhaps my opportunity to “inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more.”